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Real Ale and …rain

Reading Real Ale and JazzAs predicted, Friday night was a bit damp, though to be fair, the rain did stop, and it did give the opportunity for people to venture outside the marquee later on.  It was still a bit cold though, and having found a table with some friends (and being naturalised southern softies), we decided to stay under cover.  Mind you, the easiest way to get to the bar was to nip out of the marquee at one end, go round the outside and back in at the other end – the event was fairly well attended, but I’m sure the organisers would have expected a better turn-out if the weather had been better.  Anyway, on to the beers, and there was a good selection to choose from.  I’d downloaded the list of beers from the website in advance, so I’d already got a shortlist of beers that I wanted to try.  I can’t manage as many pints as I used to be able to, so I had to prioritise!

Dark Star Hophead (3.8%).  I’d never come across the Dark Star Brewing Company before.  Although it has been in business since 1994, it is still a small operation.  It started out in the cellar of the Evening Star pub in Brighton, and in 2001 it relocated to a purpose-built brewery in Ansty, near Haywards Heath.  This beer was the star of the show as far as I’m concerned – it is very pale gold, has a floral, elderflower and hoppy aroma, and a dry, hoppy, bitter taste – lovely – if you can find it, I would definitely recommend it.

Chiltern Ale (3.7%) from The Chiltern Brewery.  Another small and fairly local brewery – based near Aylesbury.  another light, drinkable beer – amber, with a slight toffee aroma and taste.  Not as bitter as the Hophead, and with a slightly sweet taste – quite enjoyable though.

Oxfordshire Triple B (3.7%).  I’ve previously written about Oxfordshire Ales and their Pride of Oxford bottled beer (see Dreaming Spires).  Another local-ish brewery, in Marsh Gibbon, north of Oxford.  A dark amber beer, another with toffee overtones, but well-hopped and satisfyingly bitter.  Went down nicely.

West Berkshire Brewing Company’s Good Old Boy (4%).  Described by the brewery as a “good ordinary bitter”.  Full bodied and bitter, and very pleasant, but by this time I was starting to find the amber-toffee-bitters a bit samey – but I did enjoy this one.

Almost time to go home, but just time for another pint – I just couldn’t resist a pint of St. Austell Tribute (4.2%), even though there were other beers there that I haven’t tasted before – well, there’s always next year.  You’ll know from my previous posts that this is one of my favourite beers, especially the cask version.  A light-coloured bitter (“bronze” according to the blurb), light bodied as well, but with plenty of taste – aromatic, fruity, hoppy and dry.  A beautiful beer.

Despite the soggy weather this event was as enjoyable as it always has been (this was its 22nd year, and we reckon we have only missed one of them).  The 23rd event will be on 15th, 16th and 17th July 2010.

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